FULTON — Keara Patterson and Jake Ely received Dan McGinnis Senior Athlete of the Year honors Tuesday at the Fulton Athletic Boosters Senior Recognition Banquet.
Patterson, who is going on to play NCAA Division I lacrosse at Quinnipiac University, excelled in lacrosse and basketball at Fulton.
Ely showcased his athletic talents in football, basketball, and baseball for the Raiders.
The Dan McGinnis Senior Athlete of the Year award is given to the athletes considered highly coachable, dedicated, and recognized for superior performance.
The banquet, held at The Oasis at Thunder Island, honored all of Fulton’s senior student-athletes.
Athletic Director Chris Ells harped on what “fun” means in sports.
“The fun of playing sports is knowing you gave it your all,” he said. “Regardless of the sport or game, you just competed with your teammate and friend. You just created a memory that will last for the rest of your life.”
Ells wrapped up his opening speech by touching on how sports can be defined.
“Sports have taught us many skills that we can use in life,” he said. “It has taught us commitment, dedication and working as a team. These skills aren’t taught to us every day, but they’re instilled by our coaches and parents.”
Jessica Frost, a Class of 1995 graduate of G. Ray Bodley High School and the current varsity girls volleyball head coach, was the guest speaker.
Frost competed in volleyball and softball, along with participating in cheerleading during the winter sports season, in her three years of high school.
A volleyball standout, Frost was regarded as one of the most talented athletes her senior year of high school. She received first-team all-league and all-state honors in volleyball.
During Fulton’s athletic banquet in 1995, Frost was honored with the Sox Stuber Sportsmanship Award, the McGinnis Senior Athlete of the Year Award, and the Fulton Athletic Boosters Carl Barton Scholarship.
She was inducted into the Fulton Athletic Hall of Fame in 2003.
Frost continued her volleyball career at SUNY Cortland, where she had one of the best careers in Red Dragons’ volleyball history. A three-time All-American, Frost helped the Dragons advance to four NCAA tournaments.
She was also selected four times each to first-team All-Region, All-SUNY Athletic Conference, and SUNYAC All-Tournament team. Frost was a three-time GTE Academic All-District selection and Cortland’s Senior Athlete of the Year. Her success led to her induction into the Cortland C-Club Hall of Fame in 2016.
Frost was humbled, but proud to be the guest speaker at the banquet.
“I’d like to thank the Fulton Athletic Boosters for putting on such a wonderful event each year and all the support for Fulton athletics,” she said. “Every year, I’m filled with such pride from this event.”
When Frost was asked to be the guest speaker for this year’s banquet, she knew she couldn’t say no.
“I immediately said yes without hesitation,” she said. “I wanted to speak on behalf of Fulton athletics. I saw it as a fantastic opportunity to give back after they helped me become who I am today.”
As a kid, Frost was wary about competing in sports in her community. She eventually got around to participating in figure skating.
“I was a really shy kid,” she said. “I really didn’t start participating in anything until my junior high days. At that time, I signed up for figure skating. The sport was just as individualized as one can get.
“I wanted to be the next Nancy Kerrigan.”
Once Frost hit seventh grade, she got around to signing up for cross country and volleyball. Frost gives credit to her coaches and her teammates for paving the way to building up confidence for herself.
“There’s no way I would’ve signed up (for volleyball) if it wasn’t for the modified coach at the time constantly pestering me to sign up. He asked me almost daily if I was going to put my name on the list,” she said.
“I started out to come out of my shell. I loved the sport and at the time I thought I was really good at it.”
Once volleyball became more of a presence in her life, her confidence began to blossom.
She had a chance to play JV volleyball as an eighth-grader, but declined to do so. Once she became a sophomore in high school, however, Frost had a prominent role on the varsity team.
“The socially awkward kid that I was at the time wasn’t ready for that type of role, so I stayed in modified volleyball,” she said.
Frost said, “My love for volleyball helped me steadily became more confident on and off the court. I became more vocal and a born competitor.”
Frost concluded her talk with some words of advice for the seniors at the banquet.
“Be sure to thank the family members that raised and supported you, especially ones that made it possible for you to sit here tonight,” she said.
Frost expressed how important it is to keep in touch with coaches and teachers, something she wishes she did more in the past.
“When you leave high school and move on to the next chapter of your life, make sure to keep in contact with the people that helped you get where you will be in the future,” she said.
When it comes to competing in athletics at Fulton, Frost mentioned how it’ll become a person’s greatest attribute once they graduate from high school. Helping out in the community including volunteering is important, she added.
“Give back to the community that raised you,” she said. “Remember the positive things about the community. I know there are negatives about Fulton, but there are negatives just about anywhere you go.
“Come back and help a coach, teacher, or anybody. They are the ones that helped you become who you are today.”
Section III champions of Fulton’s 2018-19 season were also honored for their achievements. The list of champions included varsity boys soccer, boys bowling, swimming, cheerleading, wrestling, Jacob Hahn (long jump in indoor track), and Eric Shear (tennis).
Here is a list of awards presented at Tuesday’s banquet:
Dale Tombs Baseball Award: Jake Ely
Barney Naioti Leadership Award: Jadelyn James and Connor Wilde
Joe Castiglia Effort Award: Camille Stevenson and Collin Bennett
Gene Adams Most Improved Award: Domonique Johnson, Conner Ware and Andrew Hyde
Sox Stuber Sportsmanship Award: Kylie Jones and Jake Gugula
Rick Luciano Football Award: Collin Baker-LaBreck
Danielle Rae Kunzwiler Guistina Scholarship: Jenna Ruzekowicz
Brian Dodge Scholarship: Andrew Hyde and McKenna Bourgeois
Dominick Sciacca Scholarship: Conner Ware
Margaret Beckwith Scholarship: Keara Patterson
Carl Barton Scholarship: Eric Shear
Judy and Dave Trepasso Fan of the Year: Jerry Mirabito
Special Athletic Achievement: Eric Shear